Like other largely unknown (in the West) Eastern European writers, Emiliyan Stanev came to my attention via a commemorative postage stamp and first day cover …
Stanev was born in Veliko Tarnovo in 1907 and spent his childhood in Tarnovo and Elena, where he lived with his family. From an early age his father would take him on hunting trips, which influenced Stanev’s later work, where nature is often described. In 1928, Stanev graduated from the Elena High School as a private student and moved to Sofia, where he studied painting under Tseno Todorov.
Stanev was active in a number of magazines and newspapers, and headed the fiction department of the Literary Front (the newspaper of the Union of Bulgarian Writers). His first book was published in 1931, a collection of short stories. This was followed by a series of essays and stories about the relationship between man and nature, Alone (1940).
Stanev’s Cyrillic Remington Portable #3 is on display at his former home, now a museum.
Throughout his life, Stanev wrote tales involving animals, social and philosophical prose, historical novels and novelettes. During his stay in Sofia he was an acquaintance of the city’s leading intellectuals who had a strong influence on his later works.
Books to follow were Wolfish Nights (1943), Workdays and Holidays (1945), Wild Bird (1946), and In a Silent Night (1948).
His best-known work, The Peach Thief, was also published in 1948, and in later years was adapted as a movie screenplay and filmed in 1964.
Beginning in 1950, Stanev worked for 14 years on his novel Ivan Kondarev describing the events surrounding the September Uprising of 1923.
Stanev also authored many books for children and teenagers, such as Through Forests and Waters (1943), The Greedy Bear Cub (1944), Tale of a Forest (1948), When the Frost Melts (1950) and Chernishka (1950).
Later works, in which he employed his in-depth knowledge of the history of Bulgaria, had a more philosophical theme. His novels Legend of Sibin, The Prince of Preslav (1968), Tihik and Naziriy, Antichrist (1970), The Queen of Tarnovo (1974), all date to this period.
Stanev died in Sofia in 1979.